‘Golf courses for housing’ trend continues13th August, 2013 by Tania Longmire
Several clubs are progressing with plans to sell part of their golf courses for housing – at least five have applied for planning permission in the last 18 months according to a Golf Club Management investigation.
However, local authorities are continuing to thwart these financially lucrative proposals due to a reluctance to build on greenbelt land.
Ullesthorpe Court Hotel and Golf Club in Leicestershire this summer applied to build 53 homes by the southern end of its golf course in order to fund an academy and driving range.
However, while planning officers at Harborough District Council recommended that the proposals be approved, councillors have now refused permission on the basis that the housing will ‘be out of keeping with, and detract from, the character and appearance of the countryside.’
The golf club’s owner, Trevor Woolley, said the houses would have created 20 new jobs and safeguarded the future for the complex’s existing 100 staff.
“The economic climate is extremely difficult and we have to look at all avenues to secure new business and safeguard the existing business,” he said.
“It’s no longer possible to borrow money from banks so we’ve got to finance this with our own resources.
“No-one wants houses built next to them but the village has to build some houses and we feel this is a good site to build.”
Mr Woolley has some hope that his plans will still go ahead though, as a spokesman for the council said: “A revised scheme more in keeping with the area and better explained open space provision may, but not necessarily will, be more acceptable.”
Meanwhile, Shirley Golf Club in the West Midlands has applied for planning permission to sell land it owns to be converted into 57 houses, which would raise about £2.5 million to fund a new driving range and disabled golf academy.
The proposal is the revival of a similar scheme that was rejected in 2011.
Conservative councillor at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Ken Hawkins, has already expressed his opposition to the new proposals though.
“The golf club does admirable work in delivering golf lessons to disabled children and those with special educational needs,” he said.
“However, although I can accept the building of the golf academy and driving range, I do feel that building homes on greenbelt farmland is a justifiable reason to object to the planning application.”
Last year Windmill Hill Golf Centre in Milton Keynes was refused planning permission to build homes on part of its golf course and this March a developer ditched plans to build 180 homes on part of Brynhill Golf Club’s course in Wales.
However, also last year, Dunbar Golf Club in Scotland was granted approval to build 37 homes and 30 apartments on its golf course.